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Socialism

by Michael Harrington

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372268,685 (3.74)5
'A scholar of extraordinary diligence and depth' J. K. Galbraith'Magnificent ... more than anything this book is about hope' Los Angeles Times'Among the very best books about socialism now available' Labour Research'A clear and informative overview ... A worthy epitaph' Chartist'One of those rare books that gives socialism the time to think, the space to breathe ... Ideas crackle and learning shines. Just the kind of book it is wise for socialists everywhere to have to hand' Socialist AffairsContents: Hypotheses * Socialisms * Authoritarian Collectivisms * Realpolitik of Utopia * End of Socialism? * Third Creation of World * Socialization Revisited * Market & Plan * Visionary Gradualism… (more)
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"Unfortunate" might be the best--or at least the most diplomatic--word to describe Michael Harrington's final book. (He was terminally ill when he wrote it.) In the late 1980s, when the Soviet bloc was on the verge of collapse and socialism was the last thing anyone wanted to hear about, this almost neurotically polite call for a very gradual form of social democracy might have seemed like the wisest approach. I get that. However, experience has shown us that Europe's social democracies (the model to which the author repeatedly refers) do not qualify as socialist, and have reverted all too easily to the same old ugly authoritarian capitalism because they made so many concessions to it in the first place. And, regardless of time or circumstance, any worthy concept must remain fundamentally what it is; one cannot, as Harrington does here, dilute socialism to the point of meaninglessness and still call it socialism. If he wanted to promote Capitalism Lite, that's precisely the term he should have used. Harrington does a pretty fair job of explaining why the totalitarian regimes of Stalin and Mao were not socialist (and why there is no airtight mathematical formula making socialism inevitable, as Marx proclaimed in The Communist Manifesto), but then overcorrects absurdly to the right rather than attempting to define the middle ground where genuine socialism should, and can, exist. He is correct in observing that if socialism ever becomes a reality, it cannot be concerned solely with matters of economy and class: it must contain a strong ethical component as well. ( )
  Jonathan_M | May 4, 2016 |
Despite major political disagreements I have with the author, Michael Harrington has penned a formidable and well-researched review of the origins, history, and conteporary tendencies of "socialism." He succesfully demysitifes the hazy origins of socialist thought by reaching back into ancient history and fleshing out the socialist undertones of messianic christianity, the hopelessly romantic continental "utopians", and the turbulent and often violent uprisings that seemed nearly irrational or without cause to the petty philosopher, pacifist, or the politically inactive observer. In the book he chronicled European revolutions, and Asian revolutions, and American revolts and passed them through with a fine-toothed comb brushing away all the remnants of "false-consciousness". Michael Harrington was an important part of the American Socialist movement and will not be easily forgotten.
3 vote alexgalindo | Aug 26, 2009 |
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'A scholar of extraordinary diligence and depth' J. K. Galbraith'Magnificent ... more than anything this book is about hope' Los Angeles Times'Among the very best books about socialism now available' Labour Research'A clear and informative overview ... A worthy epitaph' Chartist'One of those rare books that gives socialism the time to think, the space to breathe ... Ideas crackle and learning shines. Just the kind of book it is wise for socialists everywhere to have to hand' Socialist AffairsContents: Hypotheses * Socialisms * Authoritarian Collectivisms * Realpolitik of Utopia * End of Socialism? * Third Creation of World * Socialization Revisited * Market & Plan * Visionary Gradualism

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